Duke takes its fourth

I’ve got some blurry iPhone pics from Satisfaction in downtown Durham, taken after Duke sealed its win over Butler for its fourth men’s basketball championship. What a game!

No, Psi Upsilon brethren, I did not go to campus to help defend the bench. I once kicked a Duke frat guy in the head, and I really didn’t enjoy it. I’m a 34-year-old dialysis patient (who skipped dialysis tonight to ENJOY the experience of the championship). Forgive me for not wanting to go to campus to defend a bench.

Go Duke!

Blurry iPhone photos can be a bit surreal…

Just five dollars and a dream

Stephen Colbert and the Cornell BearDespite a hiatus in 2007, I’m still calling my NCAA pool “Toastie’s 15th Annual NCAA Pool”. $5 per entry. Hosted by CBS Sports this year. Here’s the website to sign up and get more info. (The secret password is ‘1996’.)

I generally like running the pool each year, because I know I am providing an invaluable service to the community.

Golf blogging!

If you have nothing to do tomorrow morning, I suggest watching The Open (formerly known as The British Open) on ABC. I used to watch golf all the time growing up, and for whatever reason, Tom Watson was my favorite golfer. I know it wasn’t because of an impeccable character or anything like that. (My favorite baseball player was Darryl Strawberry). As I’ve gotten older, I’ve watched less and less of all sports, mostly because so many pro athletes come off as self-absorbed, greedy, and arrogant. I have barely watched any golf in the past decade. While Tiger Woods’ excellence in any event generally boosts ratings, and I have little doubt that he may be the best golfer in history, watching him win a major is no fun for me, because he’s always seemed like the biggest dick in the world. I could be wrong, but Tom Watson always seemed like a good guy, Polo attire and all. Maybe it’s the gap in his teeth.

Anyway, he’s 59 now. He’s 59, and he’s freaking leading The British Open after three rounds. And he’s always grinning like he’s actually enjoying himself. He doesn’t get all pissy in that jackass-ultra-competitive “it’s no fun unless I’m #1” way like Tiger when he misses a putt.

fractions of a second

I implied the other day that watching Michael Phelps was getting a little old. But winning by 1/100 of a second just a few minutes ago in the 100m butterfly to win his record-tying 7th gold medal? Pretty cool.

I once lost something by hundredths of a second…well, tenths…three-tenths, to be exact. My fastest-finger time was 3.40, which was only second-best to the guy who did it in 3.10. Dammit. I’ll never get over that.

you’ve gotta have something to say about the other 203 countries

I made a point of watching the telecast of the Olympics tonight. I watched the whole darn thing, including the entire procession of the 204 countries. (I’ll need to research someday why it is that Puerto Rico, Guam, the Marshall Islands, and other territories compete as their own countries. If Puerto Rico is a separate country, why do we bother having Presidential primaries there?) Bob Costas was awestruck by the show the Chinese put on, and I was, too. This was far more entertaining than any Super Bowl halftime show. All politics aside, the Chinese put on an exquisite, creative, bold, and spectacular show for the world.

I made a point of watching because I heard that perhaps half of the world’s 6 billion would be watching, and it’s nice to have some sort of common connection with half of the world. One-fifth of humanity lives in China. There’s something to be said for focusing on that mind-numbing fact for a couple of hours. If you watch the parade of nations, you also appreciate that the U.S. only represents about 5% of humanity, and you appreciate just how big and how small the world is. NBC wisely avoided any cutesy perkiness in its anchoring of the ceremonies (so glad there’s no more Katie Couric chirping about), instead having the brilliant Bob Costas paired with seasoned world-traveler Matt Lauer, and even more wisely, adding an expert on Chinese culture. There was enough wit to prevent the broadcast from turning into a dull geography lesson, I thought. Most importantly, I was glad that NBC, with the exception of its sponsors’ commericals, mostly focused on China and the global community instead of making it all about USA, USA, like it has done in the past. (Ugh, two weeks of McDonald’s brainwashing a new generations of kids into thinking that McDonald’s and fitness go hand-in-hand).

It’s fine and Yankee-doodle-dandy and all to root for Americans to win lots of medals. But I hate when Olympics coverage turns into the simple storyline of “USA versus The World” in which we’re only supposed to care about the American athletes. Olympics coverage tends to encourage the American arrogance that many Americans love to embrace but many around the world are repelled by (and liberal, France-loving, America-hating Democrats like myself).

Local news coverage is the worst. You send reporters all the way to China, and they report back to you about how the American athletes like it over there and how you can find a Pizza Hut. You could stay home and tell the same stories. What about the rest of the world? What about these athletes from those African countries where they all dress funny? What’s up with that? What’s up judo, and why is it that half of the 204 countries seem to have a judo…judoer…judo player…judo athlete as their flag-bearer? Tell me about judo, because I want to know why it’s so popular everywhere else but not here. And I need to know what you call someone who does judo. I see Lebron James all over the damn place year-after-year. Frankly, I don’t really need to see close-ups of him every 5 minutes.

For 3 years and 50 weeks, we get to fawn all over our American athletes. For 2 weeks every 4 years, would it be too much to ask to think about the rest of the world?

There’s my rant.

The way they lit the cauldron was awesome, by the way. And Yao Ming and the little earthquake hero was a nice touch.

George W. Bush couldn’t look more disinterested if you had flashed him a PDB that said “Bin Laden Determined to Attack”.

This “gotta have” title was a bit of stretch. No more of those unless there’s a really obvious one.

Why I Like Where I Live #11: Da Bulls

Durham Bulls - Man on first, pitcher deliversThis was a no-brainer. I’d have cited the Durham Bulls if I had made a list four years ago or ten years ago. For this “list”, I’ve only been naming things within a certain radius of where I live. Right now, that radius is probably around two miles. Perhaps I’ll make a Google Map with all of them. I know most Durham bloggers and readers could probably name 100 reasons why I they like where they live. Focusing on the positive is not my strong suit. (You don’t say says the peanut gallery. Shut up, peanut gallery, I’m trying to be positive).

I’ve been waiting to make a post like this until I had a photo to share, since everyone who goes to a Bulls game always posts a photo. Unfortunately, both sets of my camera batteries (damn Duracell rechargeables!) died during the course of the game, so I missed the sunset, which probably arrived after the 5pm game ended tonight, anyway. Bulls won. They beat Rochester 9-3, wearing some hideous uniforms that looked like they came from Bojangles. I think they were celebrating that it was Triple-A-All-Star day. If someone knows what these uniforms were all about, I’ll be happy to correct this post. Yes, I do correct things. (Flouroquinolones are absolutely, positively BAD, BAD, BAD!)

It was also Wool E. Bull’s birthday today. He celebrated by getting to play all games the crowd usually gets to play (except The Newlywed Game, unless I missed that while I was getting something to eat). I can’t name all these mascots below, but there was a Who’s Who of North Carolina Mascots to celebrate with Wool E.

Durham Bulls - Mascot LoveDurham Bulls - Mascots convene to observe Wool E. Bull's Birthday

12 for 12

I only filled out seven brackets this year for the men’s NCAA basketball tournament, dispersed among various contests. In one, I’ve only picked 5 of 12 games correctly. In another, I am 12 for 12 so far. Should I win this latter contest, the prize will be…considerable. However, I am currently tied with 14 others; it’s a big contest. And there are still 51 games to go. I will afford myself a few minutes to be amused.

I did not pick Duke to win the title in any of the seven brackets. I did, however, pick them to win in their first-round game in each bracket. Gutsy choice, in retrospect.